Facebook, the world’s No. 1 social networking site, which has been a target of several high-profile cyber attacks in the past year, is giving away security software from McAfee Inc to protect its users.
Facebook said earlier this week its 350 million users can download a free six-month trial of McAfee’s Internet Security Suite, which protects computer users from viruses and other Internet threats.
Facebook and McAfee, the No. 2 maker of security software, have also co-developed a separate online tool that will scan and clean the computers of Facebook users which show signs of having fallen prey to an online attack.
Facebook said the scanning tool is being offered to its users at no charge. And it will not receive any revenue from McAfee if Facebook users purchase the McAfee Internet Security Suite software following the six-month trial.
Representatives of the two companies said in an interview that McAfee would advertise on Facebook as part of the partnership.
Facebook along with other social networking services such as Twitter and News Corp’s MySpace are among the most popular targets for hackers and cybercriminals.
Criminals prey upon a false sense of security among their users who believe that these “walled gardens” of the Internet are immune from attack.
The Koobface virus targets Facebook users, tricking them into clicking on links contained in spam messages and then takes over the victim’s PC. Hackers seek to take control of infected PCs for identity theft, spamming and other mischief.
According to Facebook representatives, less than 1 percent of its users have been impacted by any kind of security issue.
“We feel like we’ve done a great job in protecting our network and accounts on Facebook, but we’re always looking at ways we can do better,” said Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt.
The new scanning tool is available immediately for English-language users of Facebook, with versions for other languages coming soon.
Facebook users in the United States, Britain, France and eight other countries have immediately access to the free version of McAfee Internet Security Suite, with additional countries to come through the first three months of the year.